Damien Woody began his football career playing for the Patrick Henry High School Patriots in Virginia and, nearly two decades later, ended it on Friday with the Jets.
Woody spoke officially about his retirement after 12 NFL seasons, the last four with the Jets. He spoke highly of Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and even that reviled franchise in New England, the team that drafted him.
“Retiring for any athlete is hard,” Woody said, with his wife of 12 years, Nicole, on hand. “But I’m looking forward to life after football. I get an opportunity to spend time with my wife and kids.”
Woody was released by the Jets in the offseason but said the franchise handled that with class. He considered coming back for one more year but decided against it. Woody was hired as an analyst by ESPN.
“As the lockout went on, and certain opportunities came on, it seemed like it was time to move on,” Woody said.
The 33-year-old guard started his career as a Pro Bowl center out of Boston College with the Patriots, winning two Super Bowls in 2001 and 2003. He spent 2004-07 with Detroit before signing a five-year, $25 million deal with the Jets in 2008. The Jets moved him to tackle.
“They took a chance on me,” Woody said. “They showed a lot of faith in me. They’ve really taken care of me and my family.”
Now Woody will be analyzing the Jets’ play from afar. He heaped high praise on the quarterback Sanchez, whom he believes is ready to “take the training wheels off.”
“The guy’s the real deal,” Woody said. “Now he’s ready to take the next step.”